Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaBloPoMo #17 - Genealogy Side-roads

I think I've been pretty good this month about not boring those of you uninterested, non-genealogy motivated readers with tales of my dearly departed ancestors, and my quest to locate them.  Or even my journey in finding them.  And did you also know (it's rhetorical, don't answer that)....I'm considering becoming certified in this whole thing?  No, I didn't say CERTIFIABLE, although some would already attest that I hit that stage a long time ago - right about the time I started wandering through cemeteries...for fun.  But that would be another story for another day.  Today is about the importance of knowing where you got all of your information from...which, unless it all came from an interview that you personally had with your great aunt Ethel (and even that info can be...tricky.), you really should know and document where you discovered that little tid-bit of info for great-grandpa.

When I first began this hobby obsession with genealogy, I started out (as most people do) just trying to find that next name. You know...."Grandpa grew up here, so if I look in this census I should find him as a toddler, there he is...and his parents were...so-and-so.  Great!  Now, if THEY grew up in the same area, then I'll look in this census to find them with their individual families...and there they are....next!"  And so on and so forth.  I just wanted to get from one generation to the next as quickly as possible, know the names, and not really learn anything about them personally.  In some instances, I didn't even care about the siblings of my ancestors. I only wanted to see the direct trail that this family had taken, and none of the little side-roads.

Yes...mistake #1. Turns out that all of those little side roads can be helpful in searching out the direction of your direct path. For example, I was unable to find great grandpa on the census, until FINALLY one day he shows up living with an uncle. An uncle? What uncle? Oh...the one that I never bothered to document! Suddenly recording all of those siblings (and they had really big families back in the day!) seemed a bit more important.  Simlarly, I was unable to locate where my great-great grandfather was in Illinois.  I had found the woman he was married to, but it was only her and her daughters.  "Well that's not right.  Where's her husband?  Where's her son?"    Oh!  The son!  Searched for the son's name via the census, and in the process found great-great grandpa Allen living in the next town and his son living with him.  (Apparently, grandpa and grandma didn't get along too well, ya know.)

So there ya go.  Today's genealogy lesson.  Don't neglect those side roads!  You never know what valuable information may be drifting along in the dust.


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